A Systematic Review of Computer-Based Remedial Programs for Primary Schoolchildren Diagnosed With Dyslexia: Results From Medline
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:
Dyslexia affects up to 15% of children and is the most prevalent learning disability. With information technology devices being common in the primary school classroom, advances in computer-based remedial programs offer potential benefits in helping dyslexic children improve their reading skills. However, a previous systematic review (Strong et al 2010) found that Fast ForWord, a commonly used computer-based program, gave no extra benefit. The objective was to determine whether computer-based programs provide significant benefits beyond traditional remedial programs in dyslexic primary schoolchildren.
A systematic review was designed and conducted by using items from the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement. Medline was searched in July 2014 for controlled trials of computer-based programs involving primary schoolchildren aged 6 to 12 years, with no restriction on publication date or language.
After screening titles, abstracts, and full articles using preestablished inclusion and exclusion criteria, we included 6 studies in the review. The studies involved 605 children and were conducted in the United States (3), Finland (1), France (1), and the Netherlands (1) between 2008 and 2013. The studies were heterogeneous, studying various programs and therefore precluding meta-analysis. Two studies included Fast ForWord, and both studies showed no significant benefit. The Finnish study tested their self-developed software, GraphoGame, and found significant benefits in all tested outcomes in the study group. The French group also tested a self-developed computer-based program (developed by Magnan et al 2004) and found that the experimental group progressed significantly more than the control group in all subsets of reading tests. The Dutch study also showed significant results of their computer-based program, with the study group achieving the reading ability of nondyslexic children. Another US group used 2 computer-based programs (RWT, Herron 1995, and LIPS, Lindamood and Lindamood 1998) in their study. They found that the experimental group gained significant progress compared with the control group. However, the computer-based programs were supplementary to teacher-led instruction, and the study did not provide a specific control for the computer-based programs.
Although there are studies suggesting that computer-based programs offer benefits to dyslexic schoolchildren beyond traditional interventions, the evidence is far from conclusive. More controlled trials are needed to assess effectiveness of computer-based programs. Fundamentally, a more coordinated effort among researchers is needed to develop effective computer-based programs to assist dyslexic children.
- Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics